Credit Cards Fair Credit

Michelle Brooks

Michelle Brooks

Financial Advisor

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The time has come that you are planning to apply for a brand-new car, home, or loan and the lender mentions that they need to pull your credit report. While you are fairly new to credit, you are confident that your credit report will come back healthy and strong. To your surprise, the lender comes back and says, “You have fair credit – we cannot approve you for this type of credit.”

This is a story that happens to thousands, if not millions, of credit holders around the country and world. Now, if you have heard these words before, this is not meant to discourage you. Having fair credit is not bad – and should serve as motivation to continually improve your credit score. Now, having a fair credit can potential prevent you from opening specific type of credit cards; however, there is specific credit cards created by credit card companies for individuals with fair credit.

In this article, we are going to explore what fair credit actually means, the avenues and reasoning behind why you have fair credit, and the opportunities that are ahead, including fair credit cards and numerous different ways to improve your credit score. You see, there are always opportunities if you are open to seeing them!


What is Fair Credit?

In the credit industry, there are hundreds of different terms and concepts that are used, which, often times, the majority of credit holders have no idea what they mean. So, when people are told they have fair credit, they have no idea what this truly means. In order to begin understanding more about fair credit cards and how to improve your credit score, you need to understand the basics of fair credit. This is known as the mid-range of credit scoring models. In other words, if you are looking at a typical FICO or VantageScore model, we are talking about 580-669 or 641-700 respectively.

In light of this, fair credit is also a terminology that can denote characteristics of an individual. If you didn’t know, your credit score speaks worlds about your personality, spending habits, and financial responsibility. Individuals with fair credit tend to be considered medium-to-high risk to lenders. Typically, these individuals have either little-to-no credit history or they are irresponsible when it comes to handling credit and debt. More likely than not, people in the fair credit bracket might have missed a payment or a few delinquencies. All of this information and much more is available to lenders, simply based off your credit score.

Understanding Why Is Your Credit Score Fair

Admitting your current financial situation can feel extremely difficult; however, it can be one of the most liberating things you will ever do. In doing this, you can begin to draw conclusions as to why your credit score is considered fair and begin developing a game plan to make a difference. In order to begin understanding why your credit score is fair, you must receive access to a detailed credit score report, or your free annual credit report from one of the three credit bureaus. From there, you can begin to dissect what is happening with your credit score. In doing so, there are a few things you want to look out for:

  1. Negative Marks On Credit Report – Have you ever missed a payment or defaulted on a loan? This information will appear as a negative mark on your credit report and a significant reason why your credit score is fair.
  2. Credit Utilization – This is how much credit you have used in comparison to how much credit has been lent. Typically, people with average credit have poor credit utilization, portraying utilizing or maxing all credit available. This is common for people who quickly open credit cards and spend all of the money or for people that opened too many lines of credit or loans.
  3. Inquiries – If you receive access to your credit report, always look at your reported inquiries. These are only allowed to be present for up to 2 years. Later in this article, we are going to discuss the importance of inquiries. Depending on the type, they may hurt your credit score, and could be another leading factor why you have fair credit.

In most cases, people are aware of why they have fair credit. Again, the best thing you can do is admit your faults to begin moving forward. Rather than be discourage, there are credit cards specifically designed for individuals with fair credit.


Pros and Cons of Fair Credit Cards


  • Typically, no annual fees.
  • Average-to-Good rewards, such as cash back.
  • Achievable even with bankruptcy


  • Higher charges and fees.
  • You might find higher variable interest rates and APRs with fair credit cards.

What to Look for in Fair Credit Cards

If you are thinking about opening up a fair credit card, there are a few things that you must take into consideration. In this section, we are going to discuss a few of these points and propose a few tips along the way.


Look Out For

  • Variable Interest Rates – One of the first things that you should look out for when considering opening a new credit card for fair credit is variable interest rates. Typically, these credit cards come with higher-than-average rates.
  • Fees and Charges – Since fair credit users are seen as riskier in the eyes of creditors, you can anticipate higher fees and charges. Try to find a credit company that offers reasonable fees.
  • Rewards and Benefits – It’s without question that you need to consider the rewards and benefits of credit cards for fair credit.
  • Fine Print – Always take the time to read the fine print of a credit card’s contract. This is where you can spot inconsistencies or higher-than-normal charges or rates.

Tips to Increase Your Credit Score

1. Credit Report

One way that credit holders can begin to increase their credit score starts with their credit report. Your credit report is the reasoning behind why your credit score is the way it is. So, by taking the time to inspect your annual free credit report, you can learn precisely what’s happening. From there, we highly suggest taking the time to analyze every line of the entire report to ensure all marks, negative marks, and inquiries are true. If you are noticing any minor inconsistencies with your credit report, it’s advised to dispute them with the respected credit bureau. By doing this, you not only help clean up your credit report, you also act towards improving your credit score.

2. Automatic Bill Pay

Thousands of people around the United States lose points on their credit score due to the lack of financial responsibility and paying their bills on time. If you have ever been late on a payment, you understand how detrimental this can be on your finances and your credit score. One tip to increasing your credit score is by setting up automatic bill payments. This is arguably one of the best ways to avoid ever being late. This not only ensures that you won’t forget, it will also motivate and encourage to ensure you budget finances correctly. At the same time, you may show this to lenders and creditors in the future and they will take into consideration your dedication to improving your credit score.

3. Credit Utilization Plan

Another quick and easy tip to increasing your credit score begins with your credit utilization. If you have a credit limit (in total) of $10,000 and you have used $8,000 – your credit utilization would be a grade F. What you need to do is create a credit utilization game plan to minimize your utilization to around 30%-50%. In this case, you want to aim to use between $3,000-$5,000. This is known as the Credit Utilization Sweet Spot. This tip requires a bit of budgeting and financial confidence; however, if you are determined to achieve a higher credit score, you can make it happen. Start by minimizing the amount of times you use a credit card. From there, increase your typical payments – and pay more than once. Creditors will quickly note the difference in your utilization and this will significantly improve your credit score.

4. Knowing Creditors

Knowing your creditors is a vital aspect of your credit score – and this is why. If your creditor report your balance to the bureau before your monthly payment, the higher balance is what the bureau is going to see – in other words, your credit report. If this is the situation, you can guarantee your credit score will reflect this negatively. So, before you are quick to throw a credit tantrum, there is a small solution to this. If you are aware of when your creditors report to the bureau, take the initiative to pay your balance earlier than anticipate This way, when they report to any of the credit bureaus, they report your new balance, with payment included. If you are unsure of when a creditor reports, simply call! This is an honest question and they will provide the information.

5. Credit Over Time

If we can offer any other great tip to improve your credit score, we would advise you to add credit over time. Don’t try to purchase a car, a home, open two credit cards, and purchase an equipment loan all at the same time. Whether that’s feasible or not – the truth is, building credit takes time and you must show financial responsibility to lenders and creditors. If you are the type of person that applies for a ton of credit cards or loans, your credit report will reflect this as hard inquiries and you will be seen as risky. It’s important to take your time and pace out when you plan to apply for a new line of credit, or extend one. What you’ll need to achieve this is patience and this involves resisting the urge to apply for a new credit card or a loan. 

6. Spreading Credit

A great tactic that thousands of credit holders have used to improve their credit score is through spreading the type of credit you have. If you think only one credit card is a smart choice – this typically is not financially sound. Reason being, with one card, there is a significant chance and risk of having a higher balance, higher utilization, and higher than the desired sweet spot. It’s advised by many financial gurus to carry a select few credit cards with smaller limits and balances to not only show financial responsibility for multiple cards – but to also balance your credit and utilization. If you are worried about keeping track of a few credit cards, setting up automatic payments, as discussed early, can work wonders!

7. Like Debit Like Credit

If you currently have low-to-fair credit, you are most likely looking to do anything to improve your credit score. This tip is one that can help; however, it must be done with caution. One way to improve your credit score is to use your credit card like a debit card. Many financial gurus will shun at the idea of this; however, if you can be financially smart, plan accordingly, and pay your balances, creditors will be impressed at how much you are using your credit card, paying off balances, and staying on top of it all. 


At the end of the day, if you are looking for new ways to increase your credit score and are in the fair credit range, credit cards for fair credit are a great option to help. Now, it’s important to always do proper research and compare different credit card companies with their rates, fees, benefit, and other applicable information. On top of this, it’s imperative at this stage in the credit industry – never, ever miss a credit card payment. In fact, the safest bet is to pay your bills and balances as early as possible. In doing so, creditors will begin to note the change in your credit report and your credit number will shortly follow.